Both old and new, Israel was founded as the Jewish homeland in 1948 on a part of Palestine that was historically the Kingdom of Israel, the fabled Promised Land.
It’s the home of many of the holiest sites of all three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and while much attention is paid to how much rivalry there is among the respective religious groups, what is more amazing is how much the people of different religions do in fact coexist peacefully and share the Holy Land day by day.
Jerusalem, built on a cluster of seven lush hills, has layers upon layers of history from its various periods when it was dominated by Romans, Turks, British, as well as Jews and Arabs. Walking its streets can be as much of a history lesson as going into its amazing museums. Jerusalem is regarded as the holy city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The historic Old City is divided into four quarters, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian, where you'll find some of the city's top attractions, including the Western Wall (Kotel) and Dome of the Rock.
From the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, you can look out over a panorama that includes the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish quarters of the Old City; the great golden Dome of the Rock, the sacred mosque of Islam that dominates the skyline; and the seven onion-shaped domes of Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalena. You can see where the Roman emperor Hadrian leveled the city of Jerusalem in 72 A.D. after a Jewish revolt and combined its provinces of Judea and Philistia (of the Biblical Philistines) and called the combined area Provincia Philistia, which later evolved into the name Palestine. The archeologically minded can go farther back, to sites of Neolithic life in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel.
Sometimes called The Miracle of the Mediterranean, the whole of Israel is only about
the size of New Jersey! There are 6 different climate regions in Israel, so it is even
possible to ski on the snowcapped mountain of Mt. Hermon and end up at the
lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea all in one day!
But that’s only the beginning of what’s available to the tourist in Israel. Israel was once part of Rome, and the empire left impressive architectural relics. The city of Caesaria (Pompeii on the beach) is one of the better preserved Roman ruins in the world. Visit the amphitheater there, stroll along the beach and treat yourself to a wonderful lunch of fresh fish.
Tel Aviv, the White City, is Israel's second-largest city in Israel and the financial and cultural hub of the country. The city is most famous for its nightlife and is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. A stroll along the tayelet (beach walk) is a great way to start or end the day. If you’re looking for a more culturally enriching experience, Tel Aviv is also home to the national opera and philharmonic orchestra.
Situated on a plateau high above the Dead Sea is the old fortress of Masada. First fortified by Herod the Great at the end of the first century, Masada is known for being the last final Jewish stronghold to fall to the Romans in the first Jewish-Roman war. Today, Masada is a popular hiking excursion for visitors and is especially spectacular at sunrise. If you're not up to the hike, you'll get to the top by cablecar.
After Masada, continue to the Dead Sea. The lowest elevation on earth and 10 times saltier than the ocean, the Dead Sea is truly a must-visit location. Not only can you effortlessly float in the water, but the mud is believed to have healing properties and medical benefits. Be sure to pick up some skincare products while you’re there!
There is much adventure & fun to be had in Israel, including sailing, whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, trekking, spa and wellness, archeological tours & digs, photography tours, birdwatching, snorkeling, golfing, wildlife viewing, skiing, bungee jumping, and rapelling.
If you’re a food lover, then you’re in for a treat when you visit Israel! Israeli food has
deep Mediterranean roots and celebrates the region's Jewish heritage. Ingredients
such as olives, wheat, chickpeas, dairy products, fish, tomatoes, eggplants, and
zucchini are prominent in Israeli cuisine. While you are visiting, be sure to try local
favorites like falafel, fresh hummus, shakshuka, and shawarma.
Israel is also known for its culinary styles and winemaking. Some of its restaurants
have been ranked among the top in the world. Wherever you are in Israel, you're
only 20 minutes from the nearest winery featuring some amazing wines.